I didn't know these students, but still I write with tear filled eyes. My heart aches for those involved. The students themselves, the parents, the friends, the witnesses, all those who are sorting through mixed emotions of "what happened" and "why" and sadness.
If you know me, you know God's given me a passion for raising awareness for suicide prevention, namely among teens. Since I work so closely with student ministry, I've seen the effects of suicide. I've felt pain, helped others cope with their pain, led a friend to help, and researched, prayed and studied. I know statistics, numerous charitable organizations and causes, and events that have helped raise awareness and given people hope. But it continues to happen.
My heart is so heavy about these deaths, and that the threat of suicide (and attempts) still spreads among high school students. The most common phrase I hear after a tragedy like this is "I had no idea this was coming...he/she seemed so happy." Which begs the fact that it could happen to anyone. Best friends and family members of these students had no idea. "I would have never thought they'd do something like this". But it continues to happen.
As for those who feel hopeless, I yearn for them to know that suicide should not be an option. I yearn to give hurting students hope. I yearn for students to love other students, so these unnecessary deaths don't occur. But it continues to happen.
So what do we do?
My thought is this. Love. It might seem impractical, simple minded, or juvenile even, to think a solution to this problem is just "love". But I deeply feel it to be true. We can state statistics, and create organizations to raise awareness, and host benefit concerts, and wear red, and all of those physical things....but at the end of the day, those things won't bring back a life. They won't bring someone from the edge. What will, is love. Loving people. Deeply. As Christ loved us. Whether someone knows Christ or not, love them anyway. Show the "outcast" at school that you care for him. Show your grumpy neighbor kindness. Show that mean professor mercy. Give that negative co-worker an optimistic thought. Parents, talk to your kids. Teachers, talk to your students. Students, talk to your friends. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be shy to talk to someone new.
People need to know they're not alone. That there is a reason for living. That people love them.
If you know of someone who needs help, or needs prayer, or love, please, please help them out. The danger and threat of suicide and self-injury is a lot closer than we may realize. A girl in our youth group took her life a few years ago. My neighbor's father in law took his. My ex-boyfriend's best friend took his. Another friend of mine's best friend took his. One of my oldest friends almost took hers. You think suicide will never affect you, but it might.
The gravity of this situation is often brushed off with "Oh, that was terrible" then simply returning to our normal daily lives. I know it's not something that happens everyday, but still, it happens far too often. The solution is going to be a change in our daily lives. A small change of making sure people feel wanted, and know you're there for them. There is hope. There is help. LOVE is the movement. Love is going to be the answer.
"We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love... We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don't get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won't solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we're called home."
-To Write Love on Her Arms
-To Write Love on Her Arms
I couldn't agree more.
P.S. to those who helped support my walk to raise awareness last month, times like this are exactly why your support matters. So, thank you.
To help out a worthy cause, visit either of these sites:
To Write Love on Her Arms
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention